toronto parking minimums

Toronto wants to ditch archaic parking rules that encourage traffic

For years, Toronto developments have been planned with cavernous parking garages that eat into construction budgets, drive up home prices, and raise eyebrows of locals concerned with traffic spilling out into their streets.

It's not something that makes much economic sense for developers or homeowners, and it infuriates locals, so why is it still happening?

Toronto actually has strict city-wide bylaws that mandate the minimum amount of parking for new developments. These aging planning rules promote car use, even in the densest parts of the city where car ownership figures are lowest.

But this outdated rule could soon change, with the city exploring a complete reversal that would see mandatory minimums eliminated in favour of the completely opposite approach: The implementation of parking maximums for new buildings.

A report to the Planning & Housing Committee is recommending that the city update automobile and bicycle parking standards, and the language in the report makes it clear that the city believes it has moved well beyond the need for new buildings to be jam-packed with parking.

Citing a long list of challenges, including a climate emergency, the city's pledge to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and decreasing affordability, the report bluntly states that things need to change.

"Easily available parking encourages people to drive more often. More people driving contributes to worsening traffic congestion, slowing transit operating in mixed traffic and making it more difficult to improve travel conditions for alternatives like transit, walking and cycling."

The report recommends that going forward, the city "promote more space-efficient modes of travel and discourage automobile travel." A pretty monumental shift in policy that reflects the needs of an evolving city.

The city wouldn't just be removing most parking minimum requirements and implementing parking maximums for vehicles, but also increasing mandatory minimums for bicycle parking and requiring provisions for electric vehicle infrastructure in parking garages.

The report also calls for the establishment of a reserve fund called the "Payment-In-Lieu of Bicycle Parking Reserve Fund," with the funds raised to go towards new bike share stations and bicycles.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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